Roses are red
Violets are blue
Instead of being closed off
Let this be a day that you grew
Valentine’s Day. Baby Cupid’s with arrows. Chocolate hearts. Bouquets of roses. They all surround us during the month of February. There is no in between. No “meh” when it comes to this month. This day. This one day: Valentine’s Day. In most of the interactions I have had with people (usually women) there are only two attitudes towards this day: it seems that people either love the day or absolutely despise it with a fiery passion. And although it is a day that has turned into representing the love for others, we tend to have an outlook on the day that can be debilitating to our healthy lifestyles. And although, we feel like we are being strong, independent, opinionated, we are unaware of the damage we are doing to ourselves with these 3 viewpoints on Valentine’s Day that we have established in our lives. With unhealthy mindsets established in our lives, not addressing them can be harmful. They are a slow intruder that we fail to see is damaging our spirits along with our relationships.
So, here are 3 very common mindsets people have towards the day of love.
Disclaimer: I am in no way immune to any of these attitudes. I’ve experienced all of them. I get it.
I despise what Galentine’s Day has become. I think it’s dumb. There I said it. But ladies, before you gather up your army of other women and come with torches and pitchforks to my front door, let me explain. I don’t necessarily mean the idea or what it initially was established for. I don’t like the term because most (and without realizing it) have instilled the idea that this is a substitute for all the single ladies out there. Most women use it as a replacement. An opportunity to stick their middle finger up in the air to Valentine’s Day and all the couples out there—to passively, aggressively say you don’t care about being single (for this one day). When deep down, you damn well do. I can say this because that was me. But what is your true motive behind Galentine’s Day? Is it to gather up your girls and plaster photos on your social media, champagne glasses in hand toasting to a caption of “Here’s to single and being fab” and with some kind of hashtag referencing not needing a man when you have these ladies? Or is it to truly celebrate the women in your life that have had an impact on you and to show your appreciation for them? Is it a moment to just spend time with your gal pals because they fuel you? (Friends, be Leslie Knope. And if you don’t get this reference just google Galentine’s Day and “Parks and Recreation” will pop up in your feed) That’s what it should be about. And if that is you, thank you for realizing that. Galentine’s Day shouldn’t be coming from a place of “F you world”. It shouldn’t be a substitute. When you look at Galentine’s Day as an “Oh well, single again this year, I have to find some girlfriends to spend it with so I can forget about my singleness”, you are telling yourself that you lack something. And this is where Galentine’s Day becomes a problem. You are telling yourself you are not fulfilled. You are telling yourself you are not good enough. You are telling yourself you are not whole. Why should having a significant other on one day of the year be a deciding factor of your worth? It shouldn’t be. And if it is, that’s bullshit. Stop telling yourself that! I finally did after 30 years.
Galentine’s Day should be coming from a place of surplus—a surplus of love and joy for those in your life—not a place of deprivation or lack of something.
The “It’s not Valentine’s Day, it’s Singles Awareness Day” response (usually accompanied by an eye-roll or pre-pubescent annoyed voice)
I admit this used to be me. I was one of those people…with the eye roll. I felt like all the couples were just throwing it in my face. I didn’t think it was fair. I truly believed I was missing something in my life because of this. And it broke me down more than I thought it did. A harmless joke of “singles awareness day” turned into a debilitating lifestyle I led, constantly believing the day was out to get me. I don’t like this response anymore because it fosters envy, jealousy, self-loathing. It is expressed with a negative connotation. Instead of harboring the hatred, the frustration, the jealousy, allow it to be an opportunity for growth and self-reflection. Why does it really bother you? Why are you unable to celebrate in other’s joy? For me, I was bothered because I fed into believing I had to have another person to fulfill me which led to destructive mindset that brewed envy and even dislike towards people I didn’t even know.
Like I said, this response creates envy. Envy has no place in your life. Don’t give it that power. And if you know things like “My forever valentine” and “#myboyfriendisthegreatest” are triggers for you, driving you crazy and pushing you further and further into your pit of desperation and self-loathing, I want to challenge you to stay off social media for the day. Avoid seeing that romantic comedy with the only-in-the-movies-happy ending that will leave you with an empty longing. Avoid talking to the person who makes you feel good in the moment, but when reality hits, makes you sad because they won’t fully be invested in you. Don’t put yourself in a situation that is only going to bring negative energy into your life for this one day. These posts, these couples they aren’t rubbing it in your face, bringing awareness to your singleness. You’re doing that to yourself. You are acknowledging your “status” and you are allowing yourself to acknowledge it in an unhealthy way. I get it, I understand. Like I said, that used to be me. Instead of embracing your in between, embracing where you are in that moment, you are choosing to let it define you. You are choosing to let it determine who you are. Again, stop that. Instead choose to acknowledge your “status” in a healthy way. Focus on you for the day not the lives of others you see.
The expectation that Valentine’s Day is meant for the guy to dote on the lady incessantly
Have you ever noticed that there is this expectation that the guy is supposed to lavish the woman with flowers, compliments, and fantastic gifts. In the movies, the man declares his undying love in a grand, romantic way, plastered across a giant billboard. Women are left to believe, “yes, that should be for me too”. So, in real life, the woman feels empty, not valued when she doesn’t have the flowers, the gifts, or a declaration of love for all of social media to see. But ladies, the guy is a person too. He has his own needs and desires and expectations. Choosing to ignore his needs and expectations, belittling his desires, so your ego and self-esteem can be filled isn’t fair to either one of you. That’s you telling him that you should be valued more and his value isn’t enough. (Now I am speaking from a heterosexual female’s perspective, but regardless of the relationship, there will always be the one person with higher expectations established for them—because society tells you to do this.) Going into Valentine’s Day with certain expectations on your significant other will only fuel your self-doubt and insecurities because the moment the expectation isn’t met, you question everything. The problem with this mindset as well is that it hides true motives and brokenness we refuse to work on strengthening. If the person is expecting all of this from you, do they truly want to develop and grow as a person with you in a relationship or is it more of the idea of you: The idea of having a significant other one can show off to friends and family and their social media world or the idea that fits your life on paper but yet still leaves you unfulfilled somehow. I’m not a relationship expert, but if it is the latter, it might not be the healthiest situation for you. But it also means there is a deeper, underlying brokenness that is being covered with a band-aid—and that starts with finding in yourself what you truly want in others. Instead of going into Valentine’s Day with our cultural expectations you have placed on your significant other, try going into it with giving instead of the expectation of receiving. The only way you will find true fulfillment is expressing and developing the traits and desires within yourself that you want from someone. I’ve caught my self longing for the guy who would do this for me until I realized even the desire for that isn’t fair.
I’ve never received flowers on Valentine’s Day or had a guy share his feelings with me (with some grand gesture 😉) and these things used to bother me, make me feel like I somehow wasn’t complete or whole because on this ONE day out of my entire year I didn’t have it to share with someone. I don’t let that define my day anymore. I don’t let it take control. And you shouldn’t either. Don’t let that be your driving force. Don’t let one day be what causes you to doubt your significance, your importance, your beauty. You are enough, but you have to believe that within yourself. A day with a “special someone” can’t do that for you. I wrote this poem about 9 years ago but what I failed to realize is the pleas were empty. How can I expect this from someone else if I didn’t truly feel this way about myself?
My heart is the wellspring of my being
Bursting forth, waiting, patiently
For someone worthy, someone willing.
Even though I stand tall, shout my warrior cry,
“I’m fine on my own”
I want to be taken care of. Romanced. Desired. Wanted.
By the one whose stomach flutters as he sees me,
And an encroaching smile upon his face as he thinks of me.
But above all else I want to be noticed.
Noticed by the one who says with a content sigh,
“You are beautiful.”Lindsey Kinker, 2010
The first person you should expect love from is yourself. The first person to call you beautiful should be yourself. If you can’t love yourself, if you can’t see your beauty, you can’t expect it from other people. People can only last so long holding you up before your own doubts and self-deprecation knock both of you down. Build the traits within yourself that you want expressed by others. Thrive in your own beauty, your own worth. Trying to thrive in the search of your worth in others is a slow forming cumulonimbus cloud that will eventually turn into a tornado causing more damage than you intend. Don’t let one day—have I mentioned it is just one day?—create your environment for you. This will not be a suitable environment for you to thrive. And friend, you deserve to thrive. So, on February 15th, grab yourself a box of those discounted chocolates and treat yourself.